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April 28, 2009

Heritage Label consultation - ends 15 May

The consultation to ascertain the added value in the creation of an EU Heritage Label scheme closes on 15 May. Key
questions include how this new label should differ from similar existing schemes, appropriate selection criteria, and how this proposal could best target young people. An impact study is also ongoing. Results will be published in the
autumn and, if deemed worthwhile, a formal proposal would be put before the Council and Parliament in 2010.


Posted by iroronan at April 28, 2009 01:01 AM

« More urban transport funding? | Main | Heritage Label consultation - ends 15 May »

April 27, 2009

Informal Regional Council

On 23 and 24 April, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hubner addressed the informal meeting of Ministers for Regional Policy in the Czech Republic and presented a reflection paper based on two years of debate and discussion between the Commission and governments, regions and stakeholders. The paper outlined her vision for a stronger European development policy which ''can unlock the full potential of every region and help people and businesses make the best use of their territorial assets''. Hubner also presented the preliminary results of the public consultation on last winter's Green Paper which aimed to settle upon a common definition of ''territorial cohesion'' - a new concept which would be introduced by an approved Lisbon Treaty – and a better understanding of how to maximise the impact of European regional diversity to deliver growth, sustainable jobs and competitiveness. The 'Sixth Progress Report on Economic and Social Cohesioni' s expected to be published in June and will clarify where the debate stands.


Posted by iroronan at April 27, 2009 01:44 PM

« Port tourist facilities | Main | Informal Regional Council »

April 27, 2009

More urban transport funding?

A comprehensive EU 'action plan for urban mobility', expected last year but shelved by the Commission after the Council of Ministers' response to the September 2007 Green Paper, may be back on the table. Both the European Parliament and Committee of the Regions have recently compiled their own reports making the case that this is a worthwhile ambition.

Parliament's draft report to kick-start proposals for an action plan was adopted on 23 April. It argues in favour of respect for the subsidiarity principle to add value to local decisions, to encourage urban transport to help achieve general objectives on environmental protection and combating climate change; a 'user-centred' approach; and better linking all modes of transport in an 'urban travel systems' approach. It recommends the expansion of EU fiinancial instruments for urban mobility towards supporting, inter alia, integrated actions in prricing/ticketing systems; information programmes to enable optimisation of travel choices (CIVITAS); and intelligent traffic management systems to tackle pollution, noise, congestion and accidents (ITS).

It also proposes that public financing for transport in urban areas of more than 100,000 population should be made conditional on the existence of 'integrated urban travel plans' to be coordinated with wider regional transport and general urban planning policies. These would include mobility diagnostics, indicators and targets and an assessment of the economic, social and environmental impacts; as well as plans dealing with the development and
interconnection of transport networks, soft traffic infrastructure (cycling and walking), parking, improved accessibility, and freight provisioning.

Draft Action Plan:

Posted by iroronan at April 27, 2009 12:48 PM

« Less Favoured Areas criteria | Main | More urban transport funding? »

April 27, 2009

Port tourist facilities

A cost-benefit analysis to examine port investment in tourism infrastructure and facilities, notably through cruise liners, has been compiled by the European Commission's DG for Maritime Affairs & Fisheries. The study's aim is to determine whether evidence exists that such activities and expense are justified in terms of creating new revenue streams and long-term employment for ports and tourism businesses in coastal regions. This follows upon the October 2007 'Action Plan on Integrated Maritime Policy' which set out measures required to develop synergies and resolve potential conflicts between different marine and coastal policy areas.

The study pays especial attention to the issues of the development of sustainable tourism facilities and the costs associated with compliance with environmental legislation in order to develop indicators to calculate the economic return to be expected when undertaking such investment.

Action Plan:

Posted by iroronan at April 27, 2009 10:31 AM

« Fisheries Policy reform process underway | Main | Port tourist facilities »

April 24, 2009

Less Favoured Areas criteria

The European Commission has published (21 April) a Communication, 'Towards a better targeting of the aid to farmers in areas with natural handicaps'which focuses on modifications to the existing rural development support scheme to Less Favoured Areas (LFAs). Following efforts in 2005 to better focus the thirty year-old scheme towards land management objectives, especially on areas where the threat of flight from the land is most pronounced, Agriculture Ministers were unable to agree on a common LFA classification - specifically the grey area of an "intermediate zone'' - and the Commission was charged with bringing forward recommendations for the scheme's modification by 2010.

This Communication proposes a new 'biophysical' criterion based on 8 soil productivity and climate criteria rather than socio-economic disadvantage factors and asks Member States to contribute towards the legislative process
by carrying out national projections on this basis. The data and 'simulation' maps, which are to consider eligibility rules at the level of individual farms in order to "exclude areas where agriculture has overcome these handicaps" are to be submitted to the Commission within six months and must include "elements to ensure that areas where natural handicaps have been offset are not eligible". Currently, 77% of Irish agricultural land is classified as part of an LFA. The new system would apply from 2014.

Posted by iroronan at April 24, 2009 05:26 PM

« Globalisation Fund - easier access | Main | Less Favoured Areas criteria »

April 23, 2009

Fisheries Policy reform process underway

Seven years after the previous reform, on 22 April the European Commission began its public consultation on how the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) should look beyond 2012 by publishing a Green Paper on its reform. The discussion document critically examines the CFP's shortcomings - fleet overcapacity; imprecise policy objectives (e.g. ecological responsibility and integration with general maritime issues); an overcentralised decision-making system that emphasises short-term solutions over long-term sustainability and local community/stakeholder engagement; and the absence of political will to achieve compliance with fishing limitations - and suggests ways in which both policy and delivery can be improved.

The new options and ideas for improving the current policy include the potential introduction of a differentiated fishing regime to protect small-scale coastal fleets; long-term management plans for all European fisheries to involve
sustainable yield limits; the development of market efficient fisheries; integrating the CFP within the broader maritime policy context; improving the quality of public financial support; and better synergies with aquaculture. The next Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 25-26 May is certain to see divergent views expressed. The public consultation remains open until 31 December.


Posted by iroronan at April 23, 2009 09:48 AM

« Innovation Support - consultation | Main | Fisheries Policy reform process underway »

April 22, 2009

Globalisation Fund - easier access

The European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs has adopted a regulation to revise the elligibility criteria of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) - the scheme to provide support in instances of large-scale redundancy caused by economic displacement to cheaper economies and much spoken of in the Irish media in relation to the DELL closure in Limerick - in order to ensure easier access to funding during the current economic crisis. The revision was part of the measures proposed by the Commission in last November's EU Economic Recovery Plan.

The proposal aims to lower the minimum eligibility criteria to instances of 500 (from 1000) redundancies per enterprise (including subcontractors and buyers) or per sector; to extend the duration of support to up to 2 years; and to increase the co-financing rate of aid to 65%. The fund may be used for schemes in retraining, lifelong learning activities, worker mobility, careers advice or transition to self-employment. In early May the negotiated agreement will be put to a full vote in the European Parliament before passing to the Council of Ministers. It remains unclear whether the latter will fully endorse the proposal, as several Member States fear that lowering the eligibility criteria will deplete resources too rapidly.


Posted by iroronan at April 22, 2009 12:09 AM

« Entrepreneurial city rankings | Main | Globalisation Fund - easier access »

April 16, 2009

Innovation Support - consultation

A public consultation to assess the effectiveness and accuracy of existing European innovation support is open until 31 May. The exercise is also intended to explore ways of improving and better adapting support to the needs of innovation stakeholders. The results will form the basis for the development of future EU innovation support actions.


Posted by iroronan at April 16, 2009 09:59 AM

« Late payments clampdown | Main | Innovation Support - consultation »

April 12, 2009

Entrepreneurial city rankings

Results from a survey published in early April of entrepreneurs' satisfaction and perceptions of how supportive local policies and circumstances in major EU cities are to start-up business development, have placed Dublin 27th
overall of 37. Helsinki took the European Cities Entrepreneurship Ranking plaudits for the most favourable climate for
enterprise thanks in the main to numerous research programmes to foster entrepreneurship; the presence of several dedicated enterprise support institutions who play a pivotal role in promotion and training; and the existence
of multiple economic and social networks which have developed partnerships with local-development agencies. Nordic and German cities dominated the top ten.

Dublin's strongest area is apparently how the local environmental quality impacts on entrepreneurial performance including access to suitable property, internal and external logistics, networking facilities, knowledge capital (universities and laboratories), skills availability, and the quality of the living environment. The capital was weakest in the provision of 'pre-creation support' including identification of potential entrepreneurs. Its ranking in terms of entrepreneurship promotion, funding, and 'post-creation support' (e.g. consultancy services and operational management) approximately reflected its overall position.


Posted by iroronan at April 12, 2009 02:37 PM

« White Paper on Adaptation to Climate Change | Main | Entrepreneurial city rankings »

April 11, 2009

Late payments clampdown

The scourge of delays in payments for commercial transactions is coming under added fire after the Commission launched a new policy approach to tackle the situation on 8 April. This announcement is based on a commitment in last year's Small Business Act to reform the Late Payments Directive (2000) in a bid to improve the cash flow of European businesses, particularly SMEs - a problem brought into sharper relief by the economic crisis.

With public bodies being implicated in recent surveys as the worst offenders - taking an average 65 days to pay - the Commission is keen to redress the balance and have this sector lead by example in their dealings with private contractors and suppliers. It intends to have the recast directive transpose a rule into national law whereby those authorities who fail to pay their bills within 30 days will face the automatic prospect of having to pay compensation for recovery costs plus a flat-rate compensation of 5 per cent of the amount due as well as further charges for every day's delay thereafter. The proposal would also make it easier and cheaper for firms to claim interest on overdue business-to-business bills although business-to-consumer transactions are not included.


Posted by iroronan at April 11, 2009 07:49 PM

« Consultation on strategy for sustainable growth post-2010 | Main | Late payments clampdown »

April 07, 2009

White Paper on Adaptation to Climate Change

In June 2007, the Commission published a green paper on adaptation to climate change, leading to the launch of a consultation and eventually to the defining of an approach based on: early action in areas where current knowledge is sufficient; global perspectives; filling knowledge gaps; and setting up a European advisory group to analyse coordinated strategies and actions. A White Paper setting out a more comprehensive EU strategy of measures to deal with the issue in the long-term has been expected for some months as a complement to this focus. This paper was presented on 1 April and summarises the actual, likely and potential impacts of global warming and extreme weather on different economic sectors such as energy, transport, ecosystems, agriculture, tourism and health. Additionally it sets out a framework to prepare for a more comprehensive post-2013 strategy to help individuals, businesses, the EU and its Member States avoid "reactive and unplanned adaptation" in the future according to Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. The first phase of the strategy, which runs until 2012, will focus on key sectoral EU policies - the potential impacts of climate change, the costs of action and inaction and how proposed structural and technical changes might impact on and interact with policies in other sectors - to identify possible adaption measures which could be mainstreamed. With this resilience in mind, the Commission has recently unveiled discussion papers on agricultural; health; and water, coasts and marine ecology issues. Among the issues raised is the prospect of assessing the need to use equipment and wider use of ecosystems to improve water storage capacity, avoid usage waste and further regulate the standards of water in agriculture, households and buildings. According to the Commission, it is already clear that the impact of climate change will have varied regional implications, and most measures will need to be framed nationally, regionally and locally. It is also recognised that much work is required to ensure adequate sharing between Member States of information and research on climate-change impact and vulnerability, and best practices on adaptation. White Paper: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/pdf/com_2009_147_en.pdf

Posted by iroronan at April 7, 2009 02:57 PM

« National waste prevention programmes and waste reduction week | Main | White Paper on Adaptation to Climate Change »

April 03, 2009

Consultation on strategy for sustainable growth post-2010

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) has launched a consultation of Europe's local and regional authorities on the future of the EU’s approach to growth and jobs after the conclusion in 2010 of the current Lisbon Strategy. This is an opportunity to enable these levels of government to contribute their views towards next Spring's European Council which will ultimately determine the future direction of this policy field.

The outcome of the consultation will first be presented and discussed in Brussels during the Open Days week (5-8 October) before being incorporated into a formal CoR Opinion on the Future of the Lisbon Strategy. The deadline for contributing to the brief questionnaire underpinning this exercise is 20 April.


Posted by iroronan at April 3, 2009 03:09 PM

« CoR at Oirechtas Committee | Main | Consultation on strategy for sustainable growth post-2010 »

April 02, 2009

National waste prevention programmes and waste reduction week

The European Commission DG Environment is currently undertaking a study seeking feedback from stakeholders towards the development of future national waste prevention programmes. This follows the revision of the Waste Framework Directive and presents an opportunity for practitioners to contribute towards EU policy-making. This first part of the study consists of a 2-page questionnaire to identify Best Practices on Waste Prevention. If you are aware of such initiatives, at a national, regional or local level, that would be relevant, your feedback would be appreciated. The deadline for receipt of input for this phase is 11 April. Subsequent phases of the consultation will address the development of Waste Prevention Guidelines and of Indicators.

On a related matter of networking to influence wider waste management policy, the first ever official European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) has been announced for 21 - 29 November with the support of the LIFE+ Programme. This will be a key event for promoting awareness of sustainable waste reduction actions and highlighting the impact of our consumption on the environment and on climate change. Expressions of interest in coordinating, organising and promoting the related events and actions to be undertaken by involved stakeholders (schools, universities, local authorities, businesses, etc.) on a territorial basis are requested from competent public bodies. The relevant expression of interest forms are available from the IRO and must be returned by 15 May.

Register on the Commission’s online consultation forum http://circa.europa.eu/Public/irc/env/Home/central_dir_admin?fn=register or contact the IRO:

Waste Framework Directive: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/framework_directive.htm

DG Environment Waste Prevention site: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/prevention/index.htm

Posted by iroronan at April 2, 2009 03:14 PM

« ICT for a Low Carbon Society - Consultation | Main | National waste prevention programmes and waste reduction week »

April 02, 2009

CoR at Oirechtas Committee

On 24 March, members of the Irish Delegation to the Committee of the Regions met with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Scrutiny to discuss issues of mutual interest. In particular, the CoR members outlined the work of the Committee and in particular its activities in monitoring the principle of Subsidiarity. Members also addressed enhancing the input and involvement of the local authority level in the EU decision-making process and made a number of specific recommendations in this regard.

In particular: the Oireachtas establishing a more structured mechanism for consultation with local government on proposals from the European Commission that have implications at local government level; a more inclusive approach for transposing EU legislation into national law; and the potential to make better use of local and regional authorities as information channels for informing the public on EU issues and making better use of European liaison officers within local authorities.

Full transcript: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/DDebate.aspx?F=SRJ20090324.xml&Node=H3#H3
Further information: Contact IRO

Posted by iroronan at April 2, 2009 03:02 PM